Tag Archives: Cory Doctorow

The Darwin Elevator – Jason M Hough

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Titan is really starting to grab my attention. With authors such as John Birmingham, Steven L Kent, Cory Doctorow and Jack Campbell, they’re increasing their market share in the genre and adding Jason M Hough and “The Dire Earth Cycle” to that list, it’s hard to find better military/psychological SF at the moment.

In the year 2283, the last habitable place on Earth is Darwin, Australia after aliens constructed an elevator from Darwin, into space. A global plague has turned all but a small percentage of humans into crazed “Sub-human’s”. Darwin is safe from the plague because the space elevator emits an aura that protects the area around it but the origin coincides with the human interaction with it as they established orbital colonies along the elevator’s cord. Was the plague also left behind by the alien builders?

Skyler Luiken and his fellow immune scavenger crew are struggling. Skyler is finding leadership tough and the crew are borderline mutinous. When he leads a mission into the dangerous wastelands beyond the aura’s edge; he has to learn to lead quickly because the fate of Darwin could depend on it.

At the top of the Space Elevator, a battle for control begins. Neil Platz and his groomed assistant Dr Tania Sharma are trying to find a pattern in the appearances of the builders, but Neil knows more then he’s letting on and this keeps him a few steps ahead of the ones trying to claim control of all he built. When the master manipulator sends Tania along on Skyler’s mission, he becomes the catalyst of Earth’s next phase.

Jason M Hough’s debut is an ambitious one. It’s a mix of SF, mystery, corporate espionage and zombies. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Hough might have taken on too much for this book but as you race through the story, in a shower of bullets and debris, you realise that not only has Hough executed all of the above, he has taken on a whole lot more and pushed The Darwin Elevator to the front of modern SF. It’s incredibly fun but without being trashy, and I guarantee you won’t see the ending coming. It is great that such a relatively straightforward adventure story provokes so many questions. Hopefully this will show writers, new and old, that there can be more to Military SF.   There’s huge scope for the next two in the series so let hope Jason builds on this excellent start

4.5/5

Dire Earth Cycle are all published this year by Titan Books

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Pirate Cinema

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I only know of Doctorow as an author, so in this review he will be treated as such. I won’t be giving an opinion of his political or social stances, which is where other reviews of this book seem to go. Like his ideas or not, Cory has a lot of people talking and a lot trying to dissect his books for the ultimate political meaning. I find this incredible, as peoples opinion about his work change on whether they like or dislike the organisations Cory is gunning for.  I apologise if that’s what you came here to find, but as it’s a work of fiction I’ll stick to the story.

After reading and really enjoying “For The Win” two or three years ago, a story about child Labour within MMO RPG’s, I haven’t thought to go back to him until this book. There’s something about a man in a suit, with a copyright logo for a head that appealed to me.

Pirate Cinema opens with 16-year-old Trent McCauley leaving home after illegally downloading too many films and, as a result, the family’s internet is cut off and their way of life threatened. Without any money and with nowhere to go, Trent decides to run from Bradford to make a new home for himself in London. He luckily falls into the right crowd where he meets Jem Dodger, a crafty, resourceful and loveable bum, or gentleman of leisure as he calls it, and the reader is shown an optimistic take on being homeless, where they make more money an hour than I do . As enjoyable as it was to read, I don’t like the confidence I would now have if I was ever in that situation.

What Trent is passionate about is films and editing his own using his favourite actors scenes, but as a government bill threatens his ability to do so he takes every step he can to stop the law and to change the mind-set of society. As more characters are introduced and the situation turns from a small underground movement to a nationwide appeal, the story starts to lean away from what made it so good to begin with, which was surviving from day to day. Even though he and his friends are in constant danger of being arrested, or sued for copyright infringement, Trent’s worries seem to be only if his new girlfriend’s family would accept a homeless guy or what his family will say when he finally gets back in touch. Thankfully this isn’t dwelled upon.

Even with a couple of little snags in the characters I really enjoyed the story. It’s a real page turner that makes you think, not necessarily about how big film companies are ripping us off, but more about how much someone can accomplish with a bit of imagination, which this book is full of. Rather than making YA readers think about organising an uprising, I feel it’s more of a kick up the arse to see more of what’s going on in the world. As with “For The Win” I did my own research into the subject matter and have come to my own conclusion, feeling more knowledgeable in the process.

Just before starting this I signed up to a Cineworld Unlimited card and for a brief moment felt a bit  guilty about endorsing the industry Trent is trying to bring down, but as I said at the start, this is a work of fiction so I’m off to see World War Z.

Feel free to tweet me what you thought of this book or any others.

The copy of Pirate Cinema I got was published by Titan Books

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